Students to Seniors: Ready, Set, Action!
Dana Aspinall’s first venture into teaching a service learning class has resulted in a partnership with Masonic Pathways for the production of a medieval history play as performed by the residents of the senior living facility.
“I won’t kid you; it’s a lot of work,” says Aspinall, assistant professor of English at Alma College. “But the college students are loving it, and I’m enjoying it. It’s going better than I expected. I’m lucky because several of my students are theatre majors who look at this as an opportunity to further practice their craft.”
The drama class focuses on medieval history plays, which are short, 10- to 30-minute Bible stories. During the first month of the class, the students researched plays from the Middle Ages of European history and performed one for the residents at Masonic Pathways — “The Annunciation,” a play about the angel Gabriel informing Mary that she was with child.
Now that their research is complete, the 22 students — mostly sophomores and juniors — will assist the Masonic residents in putting on a similar play for the other residents at Masonic Pathways.
“The students are divided into acting coaches, set and costume designers, makeup artists, stage managers and so on — everyone has a role,” says Aspinall. “The residents will be coached in putting on a performance. They will rehearse, learn their lines and be in costume. We will teach the residents how to do it.”
The play, “Everyman,” will be performed Dec. 16 at Masonic Pathways. The residents will have the major roles, with students filling in with minor roles. An audience of about 100 is anticipated.
“’Everyman’ is symbolic of every person, their journey through life and the moral decisions people make to get to heaven,” says Aspinall. “It’s a Christmas play; a medieval version of Pilgrim’s Progress.”
The six participating residents from Masonic Pathways travel to the Alma College campus for rehearsals in Jones Auditorium.
“The residents are very excited though they are a little nervous because it puts them on stage,” says Lisa Godfrey, volunteer activities manager at Masonic Pathways. “Some of them have stage experience in their backgrounds, but it has been some time ago.
“Activities like these are important to our residents because it gives them purpose, something to look forward to and something that connects the first part of their lives to something in the present,” says Godfrey. “The participants feel important and take pride in what they are doing.”
The service learning class has been a great experience for Aspinall. Service learning classes are designed to incorporate some aspect of community service as part of the curriculum.
“I believe in the common good and giving back,” he says. “The Kennedy family has been my inspiration, especially Robert Kennedy. I’ve always wanted to do something like this.”
Aspinall's drama class is one of 17 service learning classes being taught during this fall semester at Alma College.
Posted: Thu, October 15th, 2009 at 9:14AM